This weekend has been so weird. John Brierley (author of my guidebook)needs to seriously look at his measurements and distances, and someone needs to walk the path from Armenteira to Vila de la Rousa with a can of yellow paint. I was wishing I had packed a telescope so I could see the yellow markers in the distance.
Yesterday was brutal – as no one had warned me of the hill on the first day, but mainly because The aforementioned JB had stated in his book that after the “hill”, there was a relatively flat path. That promise kept me going but in the end I was cursing like a sailor and I wanted to wring his neck. He lied! Perhaps it would be ok if we had started in Porto and had a few days walking already behind us but we felt we were climbing Mt Everest! Sometimes almost vertical, with constant rain and chilly wind, we plodded on. I discovered that peeing behind the bus stop with a poncho on is quite easy and it could even be done in the open – nobody can see anything (except if it is see-through, but mine is dark blue so I was ok)
Yes, there were spectacular views and much of it was through beautiful forest, but the climbing was horrendous. I’m whinging? You should have heard us both yesterday!! As mentioned before, I didn’t pack my hiking shoes either, so my feet were really feeling it. No blisters though, so that’s a positive. (Over 40,000 steps)
We had a bit of roadside walking too, and we were showered every time a car drove past. It was horrible! Having to go around parked cars as the traffic charged towards us, we thought we should have perhaps adopted a “drop and roll” approach but we managed without and found safety in a bar for a while to recover. I should mention here that Spain doesn’t have coffee shops like we do, and bars are on every corner. You buy food there, coffee, use the bathroom or buy alcohol. We are not drinking wine all day long!
I have to say that spring is a beautiful time to walk. We saw Lillies, cornflowers, forget me nots, hollyhocks, bottle brush, daisies, roses, carnations, azaleas, irises, mint and fennel, and of course the dreaded jasmine and honeysuckle, that send me into a sneezing frenzy, all just growing wild. There were indeed moments of beauty but they were shrouded by the constant drizzle and sound of our ponchos whipping us as they flapped in the icy wind. Several young skinny German, Dutch and Italian girls flitted past us with a spring in their step, and we hated every one of them. Their cheery voices singing Buen Camino as they passed, burnt my ears.
However, we arrived at the monastery after 11 hours of walking. Actually, it took us 11 hours but we stopped for lunch and morning tea. Our undoing, if you haven’t noticed, is that we take so many pictures! Who can resist a cat with vampire teeth, flowers on the door handle to keep the witches away, a duck wandering amongst the restaurant patrons, and a man wearing devils horns?Spain is so beautiful and the people are so friendly. We stop to chat, admire things, take photos and often just stop to take it all in. This Camino is fantastic, despite the whinging about the climb. we have not stopped laughing!
The monastery was fabulous and the nuns were so happy and kind. Gonzalo had kindly booked a private room for us, so we peeled our wet clothes off, dumped them a heap on the floor and fell into bed. Monica was shivering uncontrollably and I’m not sure if it was caused by her swearing in front of Mother Mary’s image on the wall, or if her body was just going into shock from our adventures! We had missed dinner because we arrived too late (6pm), so after a quick nap, hunger drove us to the bar down the road where we devoured a hamburger each and then we literally crawled back to our room groaning, stiff and aching, with feet that would be screaming like a banchee if they could speak. Slept like logs but had to get up at 6.30 for breakfast. It was laid out so carefully for us….a yogurt each, a cup of coffee, bread, cheese and ham, and OH MY!…two bottles of wine! We did not partake. No wonder the nuns are so happy all the time. 😳
Today was spectacular. The walk followed the most beautiful river I’ve ever seen. The water was crystal clear and there were little waterfalls and bridges everywhere. It took us three hours to walk 5 kilometres because we took so many photos, and as you may have seen on my Facebook post, I found another ‘thin space’. I was filming the river and this happened….
We both had goosebumps and felt really cold. At one stage Monica sat down on a bridge and a butterfly circled her completely then flew away. Her daughter had definitely come to say hello.
The walk went for most of the way along the river’s edge and it was truly beautiful.
We had planned to get the boat from Vilanova to Padrón but it was not operating today so we had to splurge and get a taxi (we have to be back in Santiago tomorrow as we have school on Monday.)We will have to return another time for the boat.
So tonight we are in a private albergue (hostel), sleeping in pods with curtains for privacy. It is absolutely spotless and there is everything a weary pilgrim could desire (including the luxury of a hair dryer and a cupboard with a power point inside to safely leave your phone charging.) Sweet!
Tomorrow we will sleep in, wander around town and catch the 12.30 train back home to Santiago. It has been an interesting few days, but really fun, and we continue to make each other laugh all the time. Im pleased to say that after this latest adventure, MagMo is alive and well. We survived. I’m loving having Camino in my life and there is now the added bonus of having it on my doorstep! I can step out on it any time I like! Life is so good right now